Know your audience

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra have started soliciting participation in on-line polls by people who have attended their concerts.  I assume that they do this by the simple expedient of sending an email to everyone who has purchased a ticket for a specific concert – that is, everyone for whom they have an email address.

The questions are fairly simple, and I’m not sure how useful the information they elicit will be.  They ask, amongst other things, your postcode, gender, and age – where you are asked to pick from a series of age ranges.  Mine is 46-55. The last of these is “86 and over.” This reminds me of the polls which sometimes ask your household income. You can get an idea of the audience the pollsters are seeking by how far up the delimited income ranges go, or, in other polls, how low the final “over” figure is. “86 and over” is by no means a negligible category at the SSO, though I’m not sure how many on-line respondents would come within it.

I have just filled out the latest of such polls, sent to me after going to “Dream of Gerontius” last night. I very much enjoyed this and was sorely tempted to try to snap up a $35 ticket and go again, especially because, priced as a Gala or “Special Event” and not apparently part of a subscription series, the house was not full, even with lots of choristers’ relatives.

Previous polls have asked “What could the SSO/Opera House have done to improve your experience?” (or words to that effect). I’ve been scratching around for succinct suggestions to make about this. The problem is that I can never remember what I want to grumble about when the moment arises. In fact, what I would like to see is less junk cluttering up the Opera House forecourt on such a regular basis which, incidentally, for one money making reason or another, impedes my favoured route via the Tarpeian Way. I would also like the Opera Bar to put a sock in it, but I have to accept that has gone beyond remedy now.

In the latest poll, such questions have been omitted. This is a pity, and I wonder if it is because they don’t relish being swamped with responses such as “Provide sufficient programs when there are words to be followed in a vocal work.” That was far from being the case last night. Mv, an usher with whom I’ve struck up an acquaintance and with whom I chatted briefly after the concert, tells me that large numbers of programs were snaffled before the concert by members of the choir, presumably as souvenirs for themselves, their friends and relations. Haven’t they ever heard of FHB?

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